At least one running argument among cat lovers is now over: Whiskers, Lucy and Tigger are definitely better off staying indoors, scientists reported Wednesday.
Pet cats allowed outdoors, in fact, are nearly three times as likely to become infected with pathogens or parasites than those confined to quarters, they reported in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
Two-legged house-mates should also take note because cats — a.k.a. Felis catus — can transmit some of those diseases to humans, the authors said.
Intriguingly, the farther domesticated felines are from the equator, the more likely they are to be afflicted by some kind of bug or virus, if they spend time outdoors.
“Each degree in absolute latitude increased infection likelihood by four percent,” said lead author Kayleigh Chalkowski, a researcher at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University in Alabama.
“You think of tropical regions as just having more wildlife, more parasites,” she told AFP. “But it turned out that latitude had the opposite effect.”
To settle the indoor-vs-outdoor question once and for all, Chalkowski and colleagues combed through nearly two dozen earlier studies in which the prevalence of one or more diseases was compared across interior and exterior environments.
All told, the new study looked at 19 different cat pathogens in more than a dozen countries, including Spain, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Pakistan, Brazil, the Netherlands and St. Kitts.
– ‘Keep your cat indoors’ –
“This is the first time outdoor access as a risk factor for infection in cats has been quantified across a wide range of geographic locales and types of pathogens,” Chalkowski said.
The effects were consistent for almost all of the diseases, including feline roundworm and the single-cell parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, both of which can affect humans.
This held true regardless of how they were transmitted — whether from soil, other cats, or prey such as mice and birds.
“Basically, no matter where you are in the world, keeping your cat indoors is a great way to keep them healthy from infectious diseases,” Chalkowski said by way of summary.
This is especially good advice, she added, “considering that many of the pathogens cats carry can actually be spread to humans”.
Other domesticated animals transmit disease to their caretakers — dogs, for examples, spread rabies, and cattle carry Cryptosporidium parvum, a parasitic disease that attacks the intestinal tract.
Wild cats were likely first drawn to human communities in search of rodents, and were domesticated some 5,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, they were associated with gods and prominently featured in hieroglyphics.
There are some 90 million pet cats in the United States, and an estimated 500 million worldwide.
CNN’s Santorum humiliated by laughing panel after claiming Russians would never offer election help
CNN analyst Rick Santorum stepped in it on Sunday morning after he tried to dismiss Donald Trump's comments about accepting foreign help, with the former GOP senator claiming it never happens.
That made the entire "State of the Union" panel bust out laughing while shouting over each other to remind him of Donald Trump Jr's meeting with Russian operatives at Trump Tower in 2016.
Asked about the Trump comments, the former Republican senator rolled his eyes at the notion of Russians making overtures to presidential candidates.
"That is not how it would come," Santorum asserted. "No foreign government could come to your campaign and say 'I'm the Russian government --'" he began before the entire panel exploded.
Trump fires his pollsters after campaign leaks show him losing in 11 battleground states
President Donald Trump is reportedly cutting ties with some of his pollsters after leaks from his campaign showed him losing in some battleground states.
NBC reported on Sunday that the firings came after someone leaked polls that indicated Trump is losing to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in 11 battleground states.
"A separate person close to the Trump re-election team told NBC News Saturday that the campaign will be cutting ties with some of its pollsters in response to the information leaks, although the person did not elaborate as to which pollsters would be let go," the report said.
Trump moves to take unchecked power: Article II of the Constitution ‘allows me to do whatever I want’
President Donald Trump insisted in a recent interview that he chose not to "go around firing everybody" during the Russia investigation because it did not "work out too well" for President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office. He also said that the U.S. Constitution allows him to do "whatever I want."
In an interview on ABC, host George Stephanopoulos noted that the special counsel's report said that Trump had ordered his White House counsel to fire Robert Mueller.
"Number one, I was never going to fire Mueller," Trump insisted. "I never suggested firing Mueller."
"That's not what [the special counsel] says," the ABC host interrupted.